Students who earn a Ph.D. in accounting can raise their earning potential and prepare themselves for careers working in highly specialized areas of accounting, think tanks and universities. According to PayScale, graduates with a doctorate in accounting can earn, on average, upwards of $170,000 per year. The American Institute of CPAs reported an unemployment rate of 4.2% for accountants, which is significantly lower than the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a job growth rate of 11% in the field between 2014 and 2024, a figure that is much higher than the average projected growth rate for all U.S. occupations. These figures indicate graduates of doctoral level accounting programs are set to enter a dynamic and fast growing field with a high demand for increasingly qualified accounting specialists.

Choosing a Program

WILL THIS PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?

A doctorate in accounting will prepare you for a wide array of jobs in the field, including working as a researcher or postsecondary instructor. The doctoral accounting program is meant to build off of fundamental skills already acquired in finance, economics, and mathematics.

DO I NEED PREVIOUS WORK EXPERIENCE TO GET IN?

While every program's admission requirements vary, some programs may specify that some previous experience is preferred, if not required. Many programs look for applicants who have a strong background in finance, mathematics, and economics from their undergraduate and/or graduate coursework. Other programs may put more of an emphasis on work experience.

HOW DO I FIND THE RIGHT ONLINE PROGRAM FOR ME?

When looking for the right program, consider your own lifestyle, schedule, and personal obligations. If you have a full time job and/or you have a busy home life, you may want to consider choosing a program that is self-paced and asynchronous to allow you to complete work on your own time.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES TO EARNING MY DOCTORATE ONLINE?

Online programs are great for working professionals who want to earn their graduate degree on their own time. The flexibility of earning your degree online allows you to work classes and coursework into your existing schedule. Since there are no on-campus requirements, students can complete coursework when it is convenient for them.

2020 Best Accredited Online Doctorate in Accounting Programs

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George Fox University

Newberg, OR Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 67%

Based in Newberg, Oregon, George Fox University enrolls approximately 4,000 students every year. The institution offers an online doctor of business administration with an accounting concentration. This hybrid track is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs and requires candidates to attend two campus residencies each year.

Individuals who earn this online doctoral degree in accounting cover core topics like international business, marketing foundations, and moral decision-making in business. As part of the concentration, students learn about agency theory and the role of regulators. They also conduct an in-depth examination of the ethical issues that stem from key accounting philosophies with regards to transparency, justice theory, and the auditor's role as a public servant.

Applicants need a regionally accredited master's degree earned with a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must also have at least five years of professional experience. The program offers an April start date.

Liberty University

Lynchburg, VA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 50%

Liberty University maintains its flagship campus in Lynchburg, Virginia, serving more than 79,000 students annually. Distance learners at this evangelical university can pick from a comprehensive array of certificates and degrees, including an online doctor of business administration in accounting. Students can transfer in up to 15 credits, and most candidates graduate in about three years.

The 60-credit curriculum contains classes on tax research and jurisprudence, marketing for competitive advantage, and strategic allocation of financial resources. Students also develop practical skills related to case study research and independent consulting. They round out degree work by completing doctoral research and a dissertation defense.

This online doctorate in accounting program requires applicants to have a master's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA. This program is fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.

What Else can I Expect from an Online Doctorate in Accounting Program?

Online doctorate programs vary from school to school. The curriculum differs in terms of required and offered courses. Some programs are offered in a cohort format, requiring students to complete coursework in a synchronous manner along with a group of peers.

CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE DOCTORATE IN ACCOUNTING

Each program and school has its own curriculum and degree requirements. Below are a few sample courses that you may take while pursuing a doctorate in accounting.

  • Accounting Theory: This course looks at general financial accounting theory. It may also cover how to implement these theories in practice, as well as methodological issues. This course also provides an overview of topics such as agency theory and budgetary control systems.
  • Topics in Auditing: This general course will look at issues and trends in auditing. Students will examine current text that explores internal and external auditing, as well as modern auditing theory.
  • Business Ethics Seminar: Most doctoral programs include special topics courses taught as seminars. A business ethics seminar explores the various decision-making and judgment processes in business.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE DOCTORATE IN ACCOUNTING?

There are many factors that affect the length of an online doctorate in accounting. A cohort-based program may require more time to complete since students must follow a set pace. An individually-paced program allows for more flexibility for you to complete coursework on a timeline of your own design. Most programs that require students to enroll part time will take longer to complete than programs that offer full-time enrollment.

A doctorate in accounting requires between 55 and 75 credits to complete. Many of these programs will take around three and a half to four years to finish, but usually allow more time if needed.

Accreditation for Online Doctorate in Accounting Programs

Accreditation is an important factor to consider when choosing your program. When a school is accredited, it means that it meets certain academic standards. Schools are either regionally or nationally accredited. Regional accreditation is considered more prestigious. National accreditation is usually awarded to vocational and career-oriented schools. Regional accreditors include the Higher Learning Commission, which accredits schools in 19 north central states that meet its criteria. Doctorate in accounting programs will likely be accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Check their website and database for a list of schools and programs they accredit.

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) is a government agency that handles policies in the school systems. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) is an organization of 3,000 degree-granting colleges that advocate for self-regulation of academic quality through accreditation. CHEA recognizes 60 accrediting organizations. The ED and the CHEA provide a comprehensive list of their recognized, accredited, post-secondary schools on their websites.

Employment Outlook for Doctorate in Accounting Graduates

JOB PLACEMENT

According to a report from Forbes, 61% of accounting graduates in 2013 left school with at least one job offer. This success is further exhibited in the rising enrollment rates in Ph.D. programs in accounting. More and more accounting students are choosing to pursue a graduate degree in accounting, and many of those doctoral graduates are going on to pursue successful careers in postsecondary education and large corporations. The table below outlines the enrollment in graduate accounting programs from 2006-2012.

Degree Level 2006-2007 2007-2008 2009-2010 2011-2012
PhD 1,095 1,224 1,188 1,189
MA 21,253 22,291 29,464 29,648
MBA 4,482 3,664 5,100 5,132

Source: American Institute of CPAs

DOCTORATE IN ACCOUNTING SALARY

Earning a doctorate in accounting online will prepare you for new and exciting career opportunities. Graduates are also projected to earn a higher average salary than those with undergraduate degrees. The table below features data from PayScale regarding the range of salaries for accountants holding different degrees.

Degree Level Low-End Average Salary High-End Average Salary
Associate of Science $30,408 $72,916
Bachelor of Science $40,024 $109,582
Master of Science $44,609 $111,472
Master of Accounting $50,363 $117,765
PhD in Accounting $61,734 $149,755

Source: Payscale

DOCTORATE IN ACCOUNTING CAREERS

Many graduates of doctoral programs decide to remain in academia upon graduation, but there are a number of other careers available. Below, you will find a few examples of potential careers for graduates of accounting doctoral programs to consider.

Postsecondary Teacher

Postsecondary teachers are tasked with planning and teaching assigned courses. They also handle administrative duties related to their department.

Median Annual Salary: $75,430

Projected Growth Rate: 13%

Accountant/Auditor

Accountants and auditors work in finance to prepare and examine various kinds of financial records. They check whether records are accurate, and also ensure that taxes are paid correctly. Some accountants work in businesses to find ways to optimize their day-to-day functions.

Median Annual Salary: $68,150

Projected Growth Rate: 11%

Personal Financial Advisor

These advisors work with individual clients and/or businesses to help them plan for investments and major expenses, including insurance, mortgages, savings, estate planning, taxes, and retirement.

Median Annual Salary: $90,530

Projected Growth Rate: 30%

Financial Analyst

These analysts use their accounting and business skills to provide businesses and private clients with guidance and advice for making investments. They also examine the performance of stocks and other kinds of investments.

Median Annual Salary: $81,760

Projected Growth Rate: 12%

Budget Analyst

A budget analyst works with private and public businesses and institutions to prepare budgets and monitor their spending. They may work in for-profit or nonprofit settings, including government agencies.

Median Annual Salary: $73,840

Projected Growth Rate: 3%

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

Professional organizations are valuable assets to students pursuing a graduate degree. Students in doctoral accounting programs can take advantage of the resources these organizations provide to network, learn about job opportunities, and contribute to research in the field. Upon graduation, these organizations can connect graduates with job openings, and they often offer conferences and professional development events to keep members connected with other professionals in the field.

Financing Your Online Doctorate in Accounting Program

Online doctorate degrees are typically cheaper than ones earned on-campus, but many students still need financial help. Most online schools offer financial aid to online students. All online students should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students applying for aid must be enrolled in an online program that has been accredited by a federally recognized agency, such as the AACSB for accounting programs. Students in online accounting doctoral programs might also consider applying for program-specific scholarships through major organizations in the field, including large companies and local firms.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.